Pittsburgh: Moreland & Arbuckle Interview by Monica L. Yasher

Posted on 10/02/2009 by Monica Yasher

I met up with Moreland and Arbuckle this summer at the Heritage Blues Festival in West Virginia. These guys let on that great things were around the corner for them. Sure enough they were right. As of September 1, they have signed on with the prestigious Monterey International as their exclusive touring agency and will work with John Hahn. John is co-founder of Bluzapalooza. Congratulations guys and may you enjoy your musical journey! Here is what they shared with me that day.

Monica: I am here with Moreland and Arbuckle . They’re here at the Heritage Blues Festival, and I have a couple of questions for you. Apparently you have been named to receive the Indie Acoustic project 2008 CD of the year award. Did you receive that yet?

Aaron: Yes.

Monica: So how did you set yourself up to obtain that award from all other artists?

Aaron: Our publicist at the time entered us and somehow we got selected. It’s a bit surprising in a way really, because most of the record is actually an electric record you know. So, there’s definitely some acoustic stuff on it. But I was surprised.

Monica: Pleasant surprise, right?

Aaron: It was a very pleasant surprise.

Monica: How did all of you guys meet?

Dustin: Well Aaron and I met up at an open mic. I guess it’s been about 8 years ago now. And, then we started playing together a few months after that…and…we have worked with Brad for a while now. I guess about five years ago. And, he came back through us again three years ago, and he has been with us ever since.

Monica: So your history is how long?

Aaron: Aaron and I actually have been playing for about 7 years.

Monica: You have done some great things. What do you wish to accomplish moving forward?

Dustin: I just want to make a good living, and making music that I like to make.

Aaron: That would sum it up for me. Make good music, and make a good living making good music.

Monica: How does the living of the music of the blues fit into you and your writing?

Aaron: Well, we all have had rough periods in our lives. But, we certainly haven’t lived the blues like some people have. We have been really lucky. The songs we write are about our experiences, a little less about being a sad blues man or a happy blues man or a broken hearted one. It’s about what feels right for each of the songs.

Monica: I read that the music that you do is a direct result of what you listen to. So what do you listen to and what influences you?

Aaron: We listen to tons, tons of different music. We are obviously huge fans of Mississippi Blues stuff like Charlie Patton and Fred McDowellR. L. Burnsides stuff like that. Also, love a lot of rock and roll. Aaron’s all time favorite band is Led Zeppelin and Brad’s probably the same. I know I’m a huge fan of soul music. Obviously old school electric blues. Country music. Traditional country music. There’s a lot of modern bands in there too. I think sometimes some people get focused on one genre, and like to focus on that particular style. We just listen to a lot of stuff. I hope it comes through when we play.

Monica: Let’s talk about when you play. Are you more rehearsed? Are you jamming? A little bit of both? Are you flowing in and out of it?

Aaron: We are pretty lose. We got some stuff arranged. But I mean we’re not a super, super arranged group. We have fun jamming. I would not call us rehearsed.

Monica: Harp of choice. What brand?

Dustin: The special twenty for me. They’re really good. Really playable. Really playable right out of the box. I don’t have to spend a lot of time breaking them in.

Monica: How long does one last you?

Dustin: Oh, that depends.

Monica: Really?

Dustin: Yeah. It’s weird like that. Sometimes one will last me three or four months without any problems. Or a real fluky deal, and I’ll have one for two or three weeks, and it will start to go out on me. It just all depends. They last a lot longer than when I first starting playing, ‘cause I don’t play near as hard as I used to.

Monica: How did you go about teaching yourself how to play the harp?

Dustin: Well, I listened to a lot of great harmonica players. Stuff like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, people like that and just started to emulate whatever I heard. I had a few friends around that taught me and gave me a few pointers here and there. There really was good instructional material put out about 10 years ago that I got some good information out of. Just a variety of ways. Pretty much there aren’t lessons or anything like that.

Monica: I know. No one really teaches it.

Dustin: There are a lot of guys these days who try. But, I don’t think I could teach anyone how to play harmonica.

Monica: So, I’m not going to you for some tips?

Dustin: I mean I could show you a few things.

Monica: Really?

Dustin: It’s a really hard instrument to articulate the teaching of. There’s nothing visual. You can only explain it.

Monica: Yeah I know. It’s like what are you talking about?

Dustin: Absolutely.

Monica: I’m working on that one. I read that you could be one of the ten blues legends in the making. What do you think?

Dustin: He is.

Monica: He is?

Dustin: He is a legend now.

Aaron: I don’t even know how to describe that...There are tons of great guitar players, much better than me. I can’t even respond to that.

Monica: Well congratulations anyway. That’s a great comment to have.

(Hey! Maybe he's a legend because of his really cool guitar he made! It's a cigar box!)

If someone wanted to emulate you what would they do?

Aaron: Bare bones...Get down...Record from the heart I guess. Not being fancy just play the guitar. Just develop your own style void of flash.

Monica: How many years have you been playing?

Aaron: About nineteen.

Monica: If I met up with you...say...three years from now, would your style be further developed from today or is it there already?

Aaron: I think our style is there and developed. You can always get better. After this long, our style is definitely there. I think our style was developed in five years. We’ll just continue to get better.

Monica: What’s next for you?

Dustin: We are super busy for the rest of the summer. We will be going up to Canada...Eastern Canada...Then the eastern states...Then to traveling to Florida in October. We’ll be doing some midland stuff in the winter. Busy.

Monica: Not much time for writing?

Aaron: January and February are usually slow times for us and what ends up happening is we take that time to do a lot of rehearsal and a lot of new material. That’s generally what happens. And, here is when the songs crop up at any time.

Monica: Do you keep a journal all through the year for this?

Aaron: No.

Monica: NO?

Aaron: I don’t want to start writing on my hand everywhere I go. (we all laugh).

Dustin: We hope to release a new record in 2010 with a blues focus and a lot of soul.

Monica: One last question do you want to tell me anything else?

Dustin: Well Brad just got some new boots.

Monica: Can I see the tops of them? Did you ever go to that awesome boot shop they have in Nashville?

Brad: No.

Monica: Your boots are nice Brad. You’ll have to check out that shop in Nashville.

With that said…we decided that the boots were made for walking and it was time to get back to listening to all the great music at the festival. And, I will call WYEP and request your music. Thanks Guys!

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The Heritage Blues Festival

Copyright © 2009 Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2009 Jessica Yasher. All Rights Reserved.

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